Long ago, humans discovered that certain plants have benefits to body and mind that extend beyond their nutritional content. They’ve been using them for millennia. But which ones may actually work? That’s the question. Here are 7 that research says may actually help relieve stress. As with any herbal substance, please speak with your healthcare provider if you have any questions or concerns.
Kava, also known as Kava Kava, is a plant native to the Pacific Islands. This bitter herb is traditionally served as a thick drink, similar to how alcohol would be served in a bar. Those who use Kava say that it offers them a general relaxed feeling. Today, Kava is available in powder or pill. But does it work? Let’s look at the science. Kava contains about 70% kavalactones, a substance that research shows may interact with the GABA receptors to calm the nervous system, and offer a subtle to moderate sedative effect, depending on how much someone uses. Similar to alcohol, someone who chooses to use Kava should do so in moderation, as liver damage has been reported.
Ashwagandha is an ancient and revered herb used in the Ayurveda medicine practices of India. The roots and leaves contain substances, known as “adaptogens,” that studies show may help the body and mind “adapt” better to stress, so stress feels less stressful. That sounds nice!
One study of adults with chronic stress showed a 69% reduction in the stress hormone cortisol versus an 11% reduction in the placebo group. Unlike some other herbs in our list, when taken daily and consistently, ashwagandha can have more consistent and lasting effects.
Marijuana is now legal recreationally in Canada and many US states, so it deserves its place on a list of herbs that can help you manage stress. Studies have shown that inhaling cannabis can temporarily reduce depression symptoms around 89% of the time. However, around 3% of participants experienced worsened depression symptoms, so the benefits may come down to individual physiology combined with the strains a person is using, which can have different effects. Similar studies on those with anxiety showed a reduction of symptoms 93.5% of the time, but again, worsened symptoms 2% of the time. The same study compared the effects on women and men and found that more women than men experienced a reduction in anxiety symptoms.
Working with the cannabis experts at a dispensary can help you identify the strains that may work best for you. If you’re in Aurora, IL, you will search for an Aurora dispensary.
You won’t be surprised that chamomile makes the list. There is a reason so many drink warm chamomile tea to unwind after a stressful day of work, kids, and life. Chamomile can offer some short-term stress relief but should not be used if you’re on blood thinners since it can further thin your blood. Many stress-reducing herbs also lower blood pressure, so someone who is taking medication to lower their blood pressure should also take care. Chamomile is in the family with marigolds, daisies, chrysanthemums, and ragweed, so people who have severe pollen allergies may also be sensitive to chamomile and may need to avoid it.
Lavender is a timeless favorite. Both oral lavender and lavender aromatherapy have been shown to help reduce stress feelings, ease people to sleep, and lessen headache pain. You should be cautious
if consuming the essential oil rather than the plant since essential oils are concentrated. Taking too much lavender oil orally can cause headaches and constipation.
6. Lemon Balm
Lemon balm isn’t related to a lemon. It’s in the mint family and has been used in herbal medicine for thousands of years to improve cognitive function and mood. Studies have shown that taking it orally may induce calmness and reduce the “over-alertness” people experience when they have racing thoughts. Lemon balm is not known to present any health risks but could cause nausea and cramps if over consumed. Everything in moderation, right?
Passionflower is often served as an infusion by placing the whole flower or petals in tea-hot water. You may also find it in capsules, extracts, or as dried loose petals. It may reduce feelings of stress, but some people may experience dizziness, so do not operate heavy machinery until you know how it impacts you.
Herbs to Manage Stress
From your grocery to the local dispensary to your own backyard, you’ll find herbs that can help manage stress. We’re all different, so remember to use it in moderation until you see how any of these may impact you, and please speak with your healthcare provider about any possible interactions. Here’s to less stress in our lives, the natural way.